Director of Tourism
Peru has made its way to the center stage of global destinations for elite travelers. María del Carmen de Reparaz was appointed Director of Tourism Promotion for PromPerú in 2011 and has 22 years of experience in the industry. She previously served as Deputy Director of Inbound Tourism for PromPerú and holds a Masters in Cultural Heritage and Tourism from San Martin de Porres University and a degree in History from Peru’s Pontificia Catholic University. During her time with the organization, María del Carmen has been actively involved in implementing promotional strategies on behalf of the organization. Her involvement has contributed to PromPerú’s most recent accolade granted by the World Awards, as the Best Tourism Office in South America for 2011. Recently Elite Traveler Editor-in-Chief caught up with the Director.
ET: Tell us a bit about what Peru offers elite travelers?
María del Carmen de Reparaz: Although Peru is mainly associated to archaeological sites and native communities, it is indeed, a diverse tourist destination that counts with an array of attraction to cater specifically to elite travelers: rich history and culture, archaeological attractions, great biodiversity and natural sites, adventure tourism, a growing luxury hotel infrastructure in different regions, first-class service, and world-known sites, wonders of the world such as the Macchu Picchu Sanctuary and the Amazon, and last but not least, its renowned gastronomy, which is gaining more followers every day.
During their visit to Peru, Elite travelers will have the chance to experience a different culture and enjoy a once-in a lifetime journey, all while enjoying the wonderful tastes of Peru, and first-class luxury hotels and services.
ET: What about access by private jet and helicopter?
María del Carmen de Reparaz: It is possible to fly into Lima in private jet; there are in fact some companies that offer that service and that can help with logistics. But helicopters can only be used for shorter flights within the country.
ET: Can you give us an update on new and upcoming high-end hotels, resorts, spas and real estate in Peru?
María del Carmen de Reparaz: During the past couple of years we have seen a number of new developments of high-end resorts and spas and real estate of Peru. Among these we can find Libertador Hotels, Resorts & Spas which opened the Tambo del Inka Hotel in 2010 and the Westin Lima in 2011; Aqua Expeditions launched the design-driven luxurious M/V Aria riverboat, Delfin Amazon Cruises refurbished the Delfin I and inaugurated its second luxury cruise Delfin II; and ARANWA Hotels, Resorts and Spas opened hotels in the Sacred Valley, a Boutique Hotel in Cuzco and Vichayito Bungalows and Carpas.
As for upcoming developments, to mention a few; in 2012 the JW Marriott Hotel will open a new hotel, and Orient-Express will inaugurate its second hotel, the Palacio Nazarenas, in Cuzco. In addition, in early 2013 Aranwa will open its Aranwa Colca Hotel Resort & Spa, and by late 2013, early 2014, the Aranwa Paracas Hotels Resort & Spa.
So it is definitely a sector that is growing at a consistent pace, and which keeps expanding to attract visitors that fit the profile of the Elite Traveler.
ET: What would be an ideal Peru itinerary if time and money was no object?
María del Carmen de Reparaz: Peru is a country where you can travel for many months, and even years, and you will always discover something unique and impressing to see. Yet, if I was to recommend an itinerary, I will definitely focus on including something from each region.
So I would say, visit Lima and take the time to explore its cultural and contemporary urban attractions, and of course, its gastronomy. From pre-Incan archaeological sites, to museums, and historical monuments, to Art Museum and galleries, Lima is a very dynamic city. Then continue along the coast to Ica, where visitors can see the impressive Nazca lines and enjoy the seaside resort of Paracas and the Ballesta Islands.
Then, I would recommend heading to Cusco and the Sacred Valley and spending some time enjoying all its attractions; visiting Cusco city, from its archeological sites, to its Cathedral and churches, to its museums, enjoying its nightlife and restaurants, and of course its people. Also, in the Sacred Valley it is possible to visit many different towns, and archaeological sites, and also there are many options for adventure tourism; treks, horseback-riding, white-water rafting, to name a few, that can add a twist to the experience in Peru. Also, spending many days in Cuzco will allow travelers to overnight in Machu Picchu and have time to enjoy the sites.
Then Puno and Lake Titicaca, including a visit to the Uros floating reed-Islands and the Islands of Taquile and Amantaní, and even the possibility of visiting Sillustani, and some interesting community-based tourism initiatives in the area. In addition to this we would recommend visiting Arequipa, a beautiful city with a very rich history and cultural inheritance, the Colca Canyon, the deepest canyon in the world, and the Valley of the Volcanoes. Breathtaking landscapes, interesting living cultures, and a chance to see the majestic Andean Condor from a privileged location.
Finally I would include the Amazon region. Whether it is a luxury cruise along the Amazon River, or spending a week at a high-end resort in the Tambopata-Candamo Reserve, where travelers can enjoy on of the most bio diverse places on earth.
With this itinerary and the time to visit each one of the destination thoroughly, will give travelers a good taste of Peru, its history, culture and natural resources.
ET: Are there any celebrities or famous elite travelers who have been to Peru recently you can tell us about?
María del Carmen de Reparaz: In the past couple of years Peru has been honored to receive a number of VIP guests and celebrities, and we are certain that many others will choose Peru as their preferred holiday destination in the years to come.
Some, like Susan Sarandon, Geraldine Chaplin and Argentinean actor Ricardo Darín, were invited by us, but others such as Jim Carrey, Mick Jagger, Kate Moss, Cameron Diaz, Leonardo Di Caprio and Jennifer Lopez, among others, have come to Peru on their own, some for holidays, some for work. We are currently holding conversations to invite a very famous celebrity in the first semester of 2012.
ET: Are there business investment opportunities in Peru for our readers?
María del Carmen de Reparaz: According to the Banco Central de Reserva (The Central Reserve Bank of Peru), in 2011 Peru experienced an economic growth of 6.6% (GDP), in a context of a world economic crisis. Therefore, at present Peru is attracting considerable investments from international companies.
In the tourism sector, specifically, the Ministry of Foreign Commerce and Tourism, has identified 30 business opportunities in 6 destinations in the country, which have been valorized in approximately 300 million nuevos soles (84 million EUR approx.).
As for the subjects areas where these opportunities have been identified it is possible to find Marine and River Transport, Hotels and Eco-lodges, Recreation and Leisure, and other projects such as Bus Stations and interregional airlines.
It is important to note that the influx of international tourist to Peru has experienced a constant increase in the past couple of years, reaching 2.3 million in 2010, and projections estimate 2.5 and 2.7 million arrivals for 2011 and 2012, respectively. This growth has had a positive impact in the income generated from arrivals of international tourists.